By Jake Boly, Staff Writer
I'm back from my extended leave of absence and ready to discuss this week's article! I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was filled with family and food. Now to begin with this week's topic: the ideal amount of exercise.
So what is the ideal amount of exercise? Three times a week, four times or more? Many have their own take of what works best for them. I'm not writing to try to sway readers' opinion or preach what is best; I'm simply writing to give another side most people don't look into.
Before I begin with the ideal amount of exercise the body functions best with, I want to discuss a thing called overtraining. Personally, I'm not sure I believe in overtraining. But I do believe in under-eating and under-resting, which is common for exercise fanatics.
Oftentimes I see people in the gym seven times a week wondering why their lifts or cardio sessions are stalled or suffering. The body needs proper time to heal and recover. Your gains are made during your rest period when the muscles are rebuilding and repairing. If you're giving everything you have in the gym every session, you won't physically be able to perform at that intensity seven days a week.
Now, onto the topic at hand. The ideal amount of exercise should be catered to fit your own personal needs and goals. Everyone has different ideas of what they want to achieve and how they want to do so. Hopefully, the information I provide will help tweak your schedule for you to reap the most benefits.
Exercising three times a week has its pros and cons. A lot of people have trouble finding the time and energy to get to the gym throughout the week, so three becomes a more reasonable goal. The main downfall that comes with doing three workouts a week is that usually the workouts are full body. When the workload becomes heavier, full-body workouts begin to become over cumbersome and make other lifts suffer.
Blasting every muscle group once a week or training six times a week seems to be more common with people who think of quantity over quality. Don't get me wrong; there are a few people who make these methods work.
But how much benefit are you really achieving if you're constantly tired or performing at any intensity below your maximum? My suggestion would be making the duration of the exercise bouts shorter to be able to perform at a higher intensity, if you choose this method.
Now onto what's considered the best method, hitting a muscle every fifth day or twice a week. Lyle McDonald, researcher and creator of bodyrecomposition.com, suggests that hitting each muscle twice a week reaps the most benefits in progression towards goals while performing at maximum intensities. I found this balance allows a happy medium of rest days and workout days.
One of my favorite sayings is "train hard, rest harder." Take rest days and enjoy them. If you like to do light cardio to loosen up or stretch on "off days" that's perfectly fine. Just be careful not to overdo it and to enjoy your days off. Go your hardest every workout and leave nothing behind, and you will appreciate rest days much more.